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The light-green building with the belltower on the odd-numbered side of Nikolskaya street was once part of the Nikolsky, or St.Nikolay Monastery. The building was later used by the State Humanitarian University, situated adjacent. The fortunes of the monastery are once again reviving. Many historians believe that Nikolskaya Street gets its name from this Monastery of St.Nikolay.
The St.Nikolay Monastery is one of the oldest in Moscow. Prior to the Revolution it belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church, and was “granted by order of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich to the permanent possession of the monks of the Iversky Monastery at Mt. Athos”. The ritual here was conducted in Greek, and drew worshippers from amongst other Orthodox believers in Moscow – Serbs, Greeks, and Georgians.
The Nikolsky, or St.Nikolay Monastery, has stood here since the C14th – the present building dates from 1902. In 1920 the monastery was shut down, and in 1935 the main cathedral of the monastery was rased. The cathedral had been the traditional burial place of the Moldavian Kantemirov family. Here were the graves of Prince Dmitry Kantemir, and his son Antiochus Dmitrievich Kantemir – who had been a well-known satirist in the C18th, and later Russian Ambassador in France. Here too lay Ekaterina Georgievna the Georgian Empress, the Georgian general Parsadan Papunov, and Prince Chokolaev of Kakhetia. The remains of Prince Dmitry Kantemir of Moldavia were purchased by the Romanian Embassy shortly before the cathedral was demolished. On the location of the former cathedral there's now a through courtyard offering access to Revolution Square. The surviving bell-tower of the monastery is under restoration.
Kitay-gorod is one of the oldest parts of Moscow. It appeared nearby the old wooden Kremlin. Although the name translates as “Chinatown,” it probably derives from kita (wattle), referring to the wall that surrounded this early Kremlin suburb. Today, remains of an old city wall and colorful churches are scattered throughout this ancient neighborhood.
The stone walls were erected in the 16th century by an Italian architect known under the name Petrok Maly and originally featured 13 towers and six gates. They were as thick as they were high. The last of the towers were demolished in the 1930s, but small portions of the wall still stand. One of two remaining parts of the wall is located in Zaryadye and the other near the exit from the Okhotny Ryad station of Moscow Metro behind the Hotel Metropol.
Kitay-gorod starts at Red Square. Apart from Red Square, the quarter is bordered by the chain of Central Squares of Moscow, notably Theatre Square (in front of Bolshoi Theatre), Lubyanka Square (in front of the KGB headquarters), and Slavyanskaya Square.
Since time immemorial Kitay-gorod has been developing as a trading area. And for centuries it was known as the most prestigious business area of Moscow. Its three main streets — Varvarka, Ilyinka, and Nikolskaya — are lined with banks, shops, and storehouses. There are also lots of historical buildings that relate to the heritage of the federal and global importance now.
In our tour you will walk along Nikolskaya Street that is famous for being the site of Moscow's first university, the Slavic Greek Latin Academy, housed in extant Zaikonospassky monastery (1660s). Another monastery cathedral, the main church of Epiphany Bogoyavlensky Monastery (1690s), is the oldest male monastery in Moscow, stands in the middle of Kitay-gorod in the eponymous Bogoyavlensky Lane. The 18th century survives in the exterior walls of the otherwise rebuilt Gostiny Dvor (Guest Merchant's Court) by Giacomo Quarenghi.
A whole quarter of Kitay-gorod adjacent to the Moskva River and known as Zaryadye (now just Varvarka Street) was demolished in the 20th century, sparing only those structures that were classified as historic monuments. These include the Cathedral of the Sign (1679–84), the Church of All Saints (1680s), St. George's Church on Pskov Hill (1657), St. Maksim's Church (1698), St. Anna's Church at the Corner (1510s), St. Barbara's Church (1796–1804), the Old English Embassy (1550s), and the 16th century Romanov boyar residence. The two last are the museums. You can visit them to see the life of the first Romanovs in the 16-17th centuries.